Yes, and the FTC has issued a rule under the CAN-SPAM Act that governs these messages. Messages with sexually oriented material must include the warning “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:” at the beginning of the subject line. In addition, the rule requires the electronic equivalent of a “brown paper wrapper” in the body of the message. When a recipient opens the message, the only things that may be viewable on the recipient’s screen are:
  • the words “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:”; and •
  • the same information required in any other commercial email: a disclosure that the message is an ad, • the sender’s physical postal address, and the procedure for how recipients can opt out of receiving messages from this sender in the future.

No graphics are allowed on the “brown paper wrapper.” This provision makes sure that recipients cannot view sexually explicit content without an affirmative act on their part – for example, scrolling down or clicking on a link. However, this requirement does not apply if the person receiving the message has already given affirmative consent to receive the sender’s sexually oriented messages.



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